I doubt whether most practising Catholics or Anglicans believe that the best interests of ecumenism are served by their highest church appointment being awarded to members of a different Faith. By definition, this involves eenuine problems of religious belief and tradition as well as adverse repercussions far beyond the orbit of such innovations.
The choice of an Anglican for the Master of the Music post at Westminster Cathedral does not repre-.
sent "a new ecumenical dimension". Apart from being highly insensitive to Catholic • opinion generally, it is, specificaliy, a humiliation to Catholic liturgists and musicians, from whom a superb staff could be chosen for the Cathedral.
The parallel to this appointment would be a Catholic assuming control of the liturgical music at iNestminster Abbey, and that would be equally hurtful to very many Anglicans.
This also increases the growing non-Catholic involvement in the Cathedral Choir School, which was only recently saved from closure by the devoted efforts of its Catholic parents.
This resident school is unique, being the only one the Church possesses in Britain, whereas Anglicans have the choice of well over 20 similar establishments. Is it, therefore, intolerant to expect that the key positions in our single choir school should be held by practising Catholics, especially so soon after another statement by the bishops stressing the values of Catholic education?
An official comment from the Cathedral has stated that "most parents are delighted with the choice and that religious intolerance is outdated".
I take strong issue with both statements. My lone teaching experience at the choir school leads me to the conviction that most parents are far from delighted. It is strange that "most parents" are referred to, since the views of the parent body have never at any time been consulted over such a vital issue, As to intolerance, how can that be overcome by denying your own what is rightfully theirs? While wishing the new Master of the Music success for himself, there are very many Catholics who will consider this appointment against both Catholic and ecumenical interests.
J. F. Manighetti, Former Deputy Headmaster, Westminster Cathedral Choir School. Waltham Abbey, Essex, I could scarcely retain a whoop of delight when I read (July 14) of the appointment of Stephen Cleobury as Master of Music at Westminster Cathedral. Once the initial shock is over, I can see nothing but good as the outcome. To those parents who worry about Mr Cleobury's ability "to interpret Vatican II and bring it to life in the Liturgy of the Cathedral," I would say that we may be sure that all these problems have been thoroughly aired at what must have been a most fascinating interview.
If one can gather a little about the young man from his previous career and the musicians under whom he has worked, then he will bring to Westminster all that is splendid and good of the English choral tradition.
Yes — it is a slap in the face for many well-known Catholic musicians — but I think that they themselves would scarcely feel flattered to be appointed to any important post such as this merely because of their Faith and not their excellence as musicians. We have a weak musical tradition in this country within the Church.
There were some suggestions as to the reasons for this on Page 7 of your July 14 issue. Whatever the real reasons, One thing is certain — we could do with a shot in the arm musically. As a convert, I suffered much on leaving a fine musical tradition behind me, and while I count it a small thing in comparison with other immeasurable gains, it is hard to sing "Amazing Grace" at 8.30 am without battling with the sins of pride and arrogance.
Thinking of many of my Anglican friends, musicians also, who would suffer a similar fate, I find it difficult to be wholehearted in my prayers for their conversion.
But now — what an opportunity I have! Now I can pray most zealously for Stephen Cleobury, his family and his new life with us. Perhaps we should not be so fearful. After all, who knows what great things can come from this small beginning. Canon Kelly, the Cathedral Administrator, has my vote. Now let's all start praying.
(Mrs) Allison Walker-Morecroft Worksop, Notti nghamshire.
I sympathise with the concern of parents of pupils at Westminster Cathedral Choir School at the appointment of a practising Anglican as Master of Music, but scarcely for the reason that he "will not sufficently be able to interpret Vatican II and bring it to life in the liturgy of the Cathedral".
On the contrary, the interpretation of the Constitution on the Liturgy which has been current in the Church since the Council surely makes the choice of an Anglican a perfectly natural one — particularly for a cathedral whose Archbishop, from the day of his consecration, has displayed so remarkable a sympathy with the Church of England. (Dr) John Broache Lancashire.
It would appear from your front page of July 14 that there is some dissension among parents of boys at Westminster Cathedral Choir School over the appointment of Mr Stephen Cleobury. Here is one parent (and hopefully not the only one) who welcomes Mr Cleobury and is grateful for the care and thought exercised in his selection.
The first thing that Cardinal Hume did when he was installed as Archbishop in March, 1976, was to walk down the road to Westminster Abbey and sing Vespers there, and during the last two and a half years there have been many occasions when the Cathedral and Abbey have joined together in praise of God and thanksgiving to Him. It would surely be good to pray together like this in the face of all the unhappiness and violence there is in the modern world, If we snipe at each other we are wasting valuable energy which could be used as a tremendous force for good.
(Mrs) Elisabeth Chapman London, NW3.
You report (July 14) some violent reaction against the appointment of Mr Stephen Cleobury as Master of Music at Westminster Cathedral. May I offer these comments as a Catholic and as one who studied music at Cambridge University? 1. His choice as against well-known Catholic musicians must above all he judged on his outstanding qualifications as a church musician, which you listed.
2. The argument of critics that, as an Anglican, he cannot interpret and respond to Vatican II impact on liturgy is a flimsy one. That impact has encouraged the growing convergence of the Churches' musical streams and liturgy and is helping to enrich our contemporary church music. The scope for improvement is enormous.
1 His appointers have rightly recognised that, as an Anglican, he should not be barred from teaching music at the Choir School. Church music transcends such barriers and, in humility and love. we should above all respect it as being at all times offered to the greater glory of God, inspiring teacher and pupil alike, whether Catholic or not.
Broxbourne, John Hussey Hertfordshire.